Six years after the release of bubbly album Pop Psychology, the pop rock band Neon Trees returned July 24 with the 10-track album I Can Feel You Forgetting Me. Known for their exuberant, danceworthy hits “Animals” and “Everybody Talks” from the early 2010s, Neon Trees have a reputation as an energetic power pop band with heavy ’70s and ’80s influences. Neon Trees’ fourth studio album I Can Feel You Forgetting Me is a deep, dark look into desperation, emptiness and lust — a significant shift from their previously peppy, uplifting music.
Neon Trees’ past discography is effervescent but somewhat scattered. I Can Feel You Forgetting Me, by contrast, is anything but distracted. The band’s most introspective album to date, I Can Feel You Forgetting Me dreams of the past. Cycling through woe, regret and a longing for what used to be, the brutally honest work searches for peace.
I Can Feel You Forgetting Me is a smile through sadness. Though many of its songs focus on similar subjects — namely heartbreak or isolation — the album seldom feels repetitive, and its brevity allows each song a fleeting moment in the spotlight. Slow, sad and heartbroken, “Mess Me Up” specifically shines as the single ballad on the album. Described on Instagram by lead singer and songwriter Tyler Glenn as the album’s “gut punch,” Glenn compared the song to “the slow dance at a prom, as if it’s one last dance before we end it all.”
Despite the downhearted lyrics, the angsty album also consists of the classic hard-hitting choruses that Neon Trees rarely fail to deliver. Captivating tracks such as “Nights” and “Used To Like” emphasize the intensity of Glenn’s resonant voice while reflecting on broken romance, and the funky anthem “Skeleton Boy” takes just enough risks with edgy, electronic flairs.
Though “Living Single” relies too heavily on its unimaginative chorus and quickly becomes tiresome, the ambitious song does serve an important purpose — it indicates the album’s shift from despair to hope. Glenn once again bitterly sings about addiction to screens and drugs, but this time he suggests that it’s finally time to change his habits: “Baby, I’m strung like an addict/ Maybe I’m breaking the habit ’cause/ Living single/ It gets so hard on my heart.”
This mood change continues throughout the second half of the album. The upbeat “Everything Is Killing Me” is a bittersweet anthem of perseverance, and the band pulls listeners in with “Going Through Something,” an alluring highlight that acknowledges low spirits. It fades with a gentle instrumental cessation, adding a necessary moment of rest to the generally high-energy album.
The album attempts to come full circle with the thrilling last track “New Best Friend,” but the song fails to completely provide the intended closure. The lyric, “Oh, stacking up my house of cards/ Gonna watch ’em as they fall apart,” indicates acceptance of brokenness and failure, but the hook, “They call me crazy, but crazy’s my new best/ Friend, friend, friend,” seems more reckless than hopeful. The penultimate track “When the Night Is Over” would have concluded the album more effectively, succeeding as a confident foil to the morose opener “Nights.” While “Nights” obsesses over a seemingly endless heartache, “When the Night Is Over” describes exciting “new discoveries” on a path to recovery.
Though it pulses with heartache and grief, I Can Feel You Forgetting Me is more auspicious than it appears. It’s not about forgetting the past — instead, it’s about accepting it. In a recent open letter to a past anonymous lover on Twitter, Glenn echoed this message, writing, “I can feel you forgetting me, and that’s actually the best thing that could happen.”
With the exception of a few missteps that lack imagination, Neon Trees manage to capture raw loneliness and desire with their fourth studio album. For a mere 33 minutes, the album is a surprisingly cohesive, reflective arc of romantic history and personal recovery. It’s clear that listeners won’t be forgetting I Can Feel You Forgetting Me anytime soon.